I don’t have much of a problem with the Blue Jays continuing to start Jose Bautista in right field despite his poor performance this season. He’s done so much for this organization over the years and deserves to conclude his time with the Blue Jays while being out on the field as opposed to sitting on the bench.
Considering his track record with this team and the fact that Toronto isn’t in the playoff mix, people shouldn’t be all that upset about the Blue Jays utilizing Bautista much like they did when he was in his prime. What fans should be concerned about, is that Toronto has a number of other aging veterans, and if the Blue Jays take the same approach with them as they have with Bautista this year, it’s something that may very well hurt this team moving forwards.
Obviously it’s important to respect veteran players…they’ve put in their time, paid their dues, and bring a unique combination of skill and experience. But there’s only so much respect (aka playing time) you can give a veteran before it starts to hurt your ball club. With aging veterans like Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, and Kendrys Morales still under contract for several more years, there may come a time in the near future when Toronto has to choose between continuing to play a veteran with declining numbers, vs starting an up-and-coming player who’s proven to be the better option.
Regardless of his performance in 2017, Jose Bautista deserved to play out the season and need not worry about losing his starting position. Can the same thing however be said for players like Tulowitzki, Martin, and Morales? These are still players who’ve had excellent careers deserving of much respect. But compared to Bautista, who made a name for himself as a member of the Blue Jays, these players had their best years elsewhere. Thus Toronto’s loyalty to them probably isn’t what it is for Bautista.
As an example, what if catching prospect Danny Jansen proves to be a better player than Martin next year? Out of respect and the fact they’re paying him $20 million, do the Blue Jays simply continue to start Martin at catcher over a rookie? Respect for veterans is understandable, but putting forth the most competitive team needs to be the bigger priority. If a young and relatively unproven player happens to be the best option at a particular position, then Toronto owes it to their fan base and the other players on the team to go with the younger player.